Amber Moncrieff, co-founder of Hunter Plastic Surgery, loves to juggle work, community and family, often with multiple projects underway.
She is passionate about the plastic surgery industry and in 2014 co-founded Plastics Practice Managers.
She also has a commitment to the local area, being an active community representative on the City of Newcastle Council’s Bathers Way project, and volunteering for Jodie’s Place, a Hunter-based women’s refuge.
- Tell us about the journey that led you to start your own business.
Well, I guess if I look back 10 years I would never have imagined that I would end up being the Co-founder and Director of Newcastle’s leading plastic surgery clinic. At that time I was an early thirty something executive in the marketing division of the Commonwealth Bank, certainly didn’t imagine myself being married or having three small children or running a business in Newcastle. So I have had rather an eclectic journey getting to this point.
I started off as a young lawyer in the taxation office as a graduate and then moved into political advising in Canberra and then working in the Commonwealth Bank. I guess like many people I got to my mid-thirties and had a bit of a career crisis; I was just finishing off an MBA and often people do make a different choice as they get to the end of that.That was quite common in my peer group that year and I was really looking for something with a bit more meaning and my now husband and I had only recently gotten together, but we sort of fast tracked things being in our mid-thirties and we decided to look at an opportunity up here in Newcastle. That opportunity involved buying a retiring surgeons practice and my husband was very keen as he had studied and trained for the better part of 20 years and he wanted to just get going but I didn’t really like what was on offer and I felt that we could do it better ourselves and he was not particularly keen to do that.I had no background in medicine but I backed myself and I backed him and we set it up together. So we came up in 2009, we established the practice and we haven’t looked back since.
- What was your original mission for your business? And has it changed?
I guess not really; it hasn’t changed much. The original mission was really playing on the strengths that both my husband, Dr Nick Moncreiff, and I have.
So Nick is very strong clinically and I have a strong business background. When we talk about the purpose of our practice we say that it is to make people healthy and happy and if we can’t do both those things then we shouldn’t be doing it. So he really obviously focuses on the healthy side and I focus on the happy side.
It’s looking at our patient experience and making sure it is five star. Of course, the tagline changes along and the way and we now talk about our five-star difference and being the leading clinic but the core of what we are has not changed.
- Did you always know you want to be an entrepreneur?
No. I didn’t grow up necessarily thinking I would run a business in my own right.
I guess all the roles though that I have had leading up to this point have really given me the skills to do it. I remember even working in the bank and doing performance reviews with team members and saying to them, you know you really should be thinking about yourself as a small business and that means thinking about what you can give and what you expect in return and that really is the fundamental transaction that is business. So I guess I really have always had that in my head and the skills that I have I have developed from all the roles that I have had in the last 20 years were leading up to it, and then ultimately it was just about backing myself and taking a bit of risk and giving it a go.
I didn’t necessarily think that I would end up here but I am very glad that I have.
- What do you attribute your success to?
I guess, are you looking at personal success or business success and when I think about both they are actually very similar. So we live in a world full of noise and distractions and if you follow every lead and do everything that you really ever could you don’t get good at anything, so I think number one is focus.
In our business we are very focused. I have just come from our monthly team meeting and we were talking about our upcoming reviews that we’ve got and I was like, remember these are the things that we were focusing on – so growing your skills, knowing the practice, promoting the practice. Just keep coming back to those core things, so focus is probably the most important thing.
The second thing is adaptability. We live in a very changing world and being able to see opportunities and take advantage of them when they work and accepting that change is a constant, which I think I struggle with sometimes and I know other members of my team do, particularly when I say things like, 2016 is the year of steadying the ship, sharpening the saw, and we will have no changes, and we ended up with a new surgeon and going to the cloud, etc; but you have to be adaptable and looking at the circumstances.
Then the third one is collaboration. I do have a very busy life. I have lots of little kids, I’m involved in a lot of community activities and I run a really big practice and if I tried to do all that by myself I would end up dead. So we have a fantastic team at work, we have a fantastic group of professionals around us that support our business, everything from marketing, accounting, etc, and obviously we have help at home so those are the three core things.
- What local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
For me it is someone that I have a professional relationship with, so that is Justin Doyle from Doyle Partners Accounting.
Justin was one of the first professionals that we met in Newcastle and what I really liked about Justin was that he is very plain speaking but he is innovative, he doesn’t take silly chances which is an important thing when you are looking at an accountant and you want to be able to sleep at night. But obviously you still want someone who is innovative and comes up with good ideas. So they’re the things that I like about Justin.
I think the term entrepreneur sometimes has a bad rap and sort of growing up in the 80s of the Alan Bond and things, sometimes people are a bit icky about that word because sometimes people are more froth than beer and Justin is not like that. Justin surrounds himself with really good, really switched on people, he is a family man, all those sorts of things we like and so for me Justin has provided us some really good advice for ourselves, for our practice, he is a great sounding board and so I definitely use him for inspiration.